Betfair Australia has announced it will no longer host markets on Hong Kong racing.
In a surprise move, the wagering company has backed down after the Jockey Club sent an open letter earlier this month demanding it cease and desist from operating on its product.
Betfair is hoping by withdrawing its markets it will be able to reach an agreement with the Jockey Club and enter into a “product fee and integrity agreement”.
“We listened to you and we launched Hong Kong racing on the exchange, but regrettably, with immediate effect we will no longer be offering the product,” Betfair wrote in an email to customers.
“Despite not being in breach of any law or regulation by offering Hong Kong racing, we have decided to pause offering the product and continue to reach out to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“We see ourselves very much aligned with statements consistently made by the HKJC that customer activity captured through legal, transparent channels (such as Betfair), rather than opaque exchanges (such as Citibet) is fundamental for the integrity and success of racing.”
A month ago, Betfair Australia announced it was reopening its exchange on Hong Kong racing to much fanfare, after initially operating for a short-period in the early 2000s.
It did so without approval from the Jockey Club, which was not happy about the situation.
Officials at Sports Road responded by sending a scathing five-page open letter to chief executive Tim Moore-Barton, accusing Betfair Australia of being “reckless, cavalier and unconscionable” while compromising integrity.
Despite the resistance from the Jockey Club, the exchange continued to operate until Friday’s shock announcement.
Ultimately, the venture only lasted four meetings, with less than A$2 million of matched bets across 38 races.
It appears the lack of liquidity in the market meant continuing to operate wasn’t worth the headache for Betfair Australia, as its decision to pull the plug caught the Jockey Club by surprise.
“The Hong Kong Jockey Club welcomes the announcement by Betfair of a pause in offering Hong Kong racing on its Betfair Exchange with immediate effect,” a Jockey Club spokesperson said.
“However, the club would like to reiterate its position that betting exchanges violate and are a serious threat to the integrity of racing. Indeed, in the club’s view, the ability for people to lay a horse and profit from it not winning is intrinsically at odds with the principles of the sport.”